Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Special Edition of "Light Hearted" - Maine lighthouse keeper Ernie DeRaps

Ernie DeRaps at Monhegan Lighthouse in 2007. Photo by Jeremy D’Entremont.
This is a special edition of Light Hearted, featuring an extended interview with a former lighthouse keeper. Ernie DeRaps, a native Mainer, spent several years in the 1950s and ‘60s as a Coast Guard lighthouse keeper at four Maine lighthouses – Monhegan, Fort Point, Heron Neck, and Browns Head. After retirement he took up painting at the age of 80.  Ernie is now in his early 90s, and he has completed portraits of all 65 lighthouses on the Maine coast.

L to R: Jeremy D’Entremont, Ernie DeRaps, Bob Trapani, Jr., in February 2019
A book by Ernie DeRaps and his wife, Pauline, was published by Foghorn Publishing in 2006. Ernie’s half of the book was called Lighthouse Keeping. If you turn the book over and upside down, the other half of the book, by Pauline Fitzgerald DeRaps, was called Light Housekeeping.
Ernie and Pauline were married for 64 years and had six children. Pauline passed away in 2015 and is, of course, greatly missed, but Ernie is staying busy with his painting, as well as his children, nine grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Ernie celebrates his 92nd birthday this month.
The book   Lighthouse Keeping / Light Housekeeping by Ernie and Pauline DeRaps is available from Foghorn Publishing. You can see some of Ernie’s paintings of Maine lighthouses at You’ll see his Lighthouses of the Maine Coast series as well as some nature paintings and seascapes.

Ernie’s painting of Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Note from producer/host Jeremy D’Entremont
:      I visited Ernie DeRaps at his home in Richmond, Maine, last February. With me was my friend Bob Trapani, Jr., executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation. Bob took part in the conversation with Ernie. The reason I waited until now to post this interview is that there was a problem with the sound. We recorded the conversation at Ernie’s kitchen table. As we spoke, Ernie kept tapping his fingers on the table. I was aware of it at the time, but I didn’t ask him to stop because I was afraid it might interrupt his thought process. I didn’t think the sound the tapping was making was very significant. It wasn’t until I listened to the recording later that I realized the tapping went right to the microphone stands and was recorded as a loud “boing” every time. For that reason, I shelved the interview for almost a year. But I recently listened to it again and I decided that it would be best to release it in spite of the problem. You can hear everything that’s said clearly, and Ernie’s great to listen to and I hated the thought of not using it because of a few little “boings.”
Listen here:

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Light Hearted podcast Ep 19 – Russ Rowlett of The Lighthouse Directory; Jeff Zappen, Waterways Management Specialist in WA

Host Jeremy D’Entremont is joined by co-host Michelle Jewell Shaw. When Russ Rowlett was growing up in Richmond, Virginia, his only exposure to lighthouses was climbing the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse when his family vacationed at Virginia Beach. Russ started his web site, The Lighthouse Directory, in 1999, and it kept growing until, by 2009, it covered the whole world. It’s one of the most useful lighthouse information sites on the Internet, and Russ is the first guest on this episode of Light Hearted.

Bob Muller was the founding president of the Long Island Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society in New York. He has been involved in lighthouse research, education, lecturing, and preservation for twenty years. In this first installment of The (non-political) Muller Report, Bob updates us on the restoration efforts for Stepping Stones Lighthouse, the westernmost lighthouse in Long Island Sound, a project in which Bob has been personally involved.

In a history segment, Michelle and Jeremy relate the story of Willie Williams, longtime (1883-1911) keeper of Maine’s remote Boon Island Light Station, who said in retirement: “There were days when I first went on the station that I could not get away from the idea that I was the same as locked up in a cell.”

William C. Williams, courtesy of Jim Claflin

The next interview is Jeff Zappen, who retired in December 2018 after 28 years as a Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard. Jeff is still working for the Coast Guard as a Waterways Management Specialist in Port Orchard, Washington. Jeremy interviewed Jeff during a visit to the U.S. Lighthouse Society’s headquarters in Hansville, Washington, last January. The conversation involves the evolving nature of the Coast Guard’s role with America’s lighthouses and other aids to navigation.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

U.S. Lighthouse Society podcast "Light Hearted" episode 9

Host Jeremy D’Entremont interviews Annie C. Harris, director of Essex Heritage. The non-profit organization promotes the cultural heritage of Essex County, Massachusetts, and owns the Bakers Island Light Station in Salem. The station consists of an 1820 lighthouse tower, two keepers’ houses, and outbuildings. Through Essex Heritage, tours of the historic light station are available, and also overnight stays.
Bakers Island Lighthouse, photo by Jeremy D'Entremont
In the history segment, Jeremy and co-host Cindy Johnson continue the saga of the lighthouses on the Eddystone Rocks off Plymouth, England, with the story of Rudyard’s 1709 tower and Smeaton’s 1759 tower, which represented a major step forward in the construction of wave-swept lighthouses.

Jeremy and Cindy then discuss the 1959 horror film The Monster of Piedras Blancas, which was shot largely at California’s Point Conception Light Station. Jeremy recalls a phone interview with one of the movie’s stars, Jeanne Carmen.

From The Monster of Piedras Blancas

Click here to hear the program.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Light Hearted Ep 7 – Nick Korstad, Big Bay Point, Michigan; Erin Corra, Lime Kiln, Washington

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Nick Korstad
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Lime Kiln Lighthouse

Jeremy D'Entremont and Michelle Jewell Shaw come to you from the Portsmouth Public Library. The feature interview is with Nick Korstad, owner of the Big Bay Point Lighthouse B&B in Michigan. Prior to purchasing Big Bay Point Lighthouse, Nick bought and restored Borden Flats Lighthouse in Fall River, Massachusetts, a project for which he was featured on several national TV shows and received a “Keeper of the Light” award from the American Lighthouse Foundation.

The history segment is all about the Cordouan Lighthouse in France, which was built between 1584 and 1611. Not only is it the oldest lighthouse in France and one of the oldest in the world, but it’s the tenth tallest masonry lighthouse in the world at 223 feet. It’s been called the Lighthouse of Kings and the Versailles of the Sea.

Also featured is an interview with Erin Corra, founder and executive director of the Friends of Lime Kiln Society. The organization manages Washington's Lime Kiln Lighthouse, which is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary with a big event on June 30.

Click here to hear the episode.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Light Hearted podcast Episode 6 - Anne E. Witsenburg, California Lighthouse in Aruba

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Kõpu Lighthouse on a Soviet stamp

Join host jeremy D'Entremont and co-host Cindy Johnson at New Hampshire's Exeter Inn as they discuss the Kõpu Lighthouse on the Estonian Island of Hiiumaa, originally built in 1531. It’s the third oldest operating lighthouse in the world.

The featured interview is with Anne E. Witsenburg of Monumentsfund Aruba, the organization that manages the California Lighthouse near the northern tip of the island. The recently restored lighthouse, which is more than 100 years old, is open to the public all year.

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California Lighthouse, Aruba. (Monumentsfund Aruba)

Monday, June 17, 2019

Light Hearted - Ep. 5, Bob Trapani Jr., American Lighthouse Foundation

In episode five of Light Hearted, host Jeremy D'Entremont and co-host Cindy Johnson discuss the Hook Lighthouse in Ireland in the history segment. There's also the usual trivia question with prizes.

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Bob Trapani, Jr., with one of the interpretive displays in the keeper's house at Owls Head.

The featured interview is with Bob Trapani, Jr. Since 2005, Bob has served as the executive director of the American Lighthouse Foundation, a nonprofit organization with its headquarters in the historic keeper’s house of the Owls Head Lighthouse in Maine. Bob and Jeremy had the chance to sit down for a chat in the keeper’s house at Owls Head this past December, and the conversation ranged from the challenges of preservation to the technology of modern aids to navigation.

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Hook Lighthouse, Ireland. USLHS archives

Click here for the podcast!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Light Hearted – Ep 2, Chad Kaiser, “Light at the Edge of the World”

Episode 2 of the U.S. Lighthouse podcast "Light Hearted" is now online.

You can listen here:

Chad Kaiser (New Dungeness Light Station Association)
In episode 2 of the podcast, host Jeremy D’Entremont interviews Chad Kaiser, general manager of the New Dungeness Light Station in Sequim, Washington. Chad is also a lampist (Fresnel lens expert) and preservationist, and a “part two” of this interview will be heard in a future episode.
Chad and Jeremy (why does that sound familiar?) talk about the remoteness of New Dungeness, which is at the end of a five mile sand spit, and about the “keeper” program that offers individuals, families, and groups an opportunity to spend a week at the station while performing maintenance duties and providing tours.

Jeremy and co-host Cindy Johnson tell the story of the Pharos of Alexandria, the world’s first great lighthouse, and a model for many lighthouses that followed.
Jeremy and Cindy discuss a 1971 movie, The Light at the Edge of the World, starring Kirk Douglas and Yul Brynner. The film was based on a novel by Jules Verne. It’s one of the rare adventure movies ever made where a lighthouse keeper is the hero.
There’s another trivia question and a chance to win prizes.